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The Loire Valley, in central France, is home to more than 300 chateaux, ranging in size and style. In 2000, the region was also declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, thanks to the wealth of historical and architectural marvels. And if you want to discover this region in style, there are some sublime boutique hotels, many housed within castles. We reveal some of the best so you can have a royally good time – and all are bookable through Culture Trip.
Le Relais is the only hotel on the regal Chateau de Chambord estate. The stylish rooms, which have feature walls behind plush beds, are full of natural light. But the crowning jewel is the La Toue du Relais suite, which is a floating traditional flat-bottomed Loire riverboat that sleeps two. On the activity side of things, take a 4×4 game drive through the surrounding forests or opt for a spa session. The restaurant is another highlight with seasonal local dishes and prime views of the famous castle.
Located down a long oak-lined drive, this impressive chateau hotel has a real wow factor, with regal chandelier-lined corridors paving the way to enormous bedrooms awash with ornate wall fabrics, beautifully hung curtains, antique furniture and – of course – views of the magnificent grounds. Set within 40ha (100 acres) of parkland, the property dates back to the 15th century – the grounds were a favoured hunting spot of King Louis XIII. Today the four-star hotel has 36 rooms and suites as well as a large outdoor swimming pool. On sunny evenings enjoy an aperitif in the hotel sitting room before venturing to the well-appointed restaurant terrace to enjoy fine French fare surrounded by beautiful countryside. Check out the bar’s cognac and Armagnac collection before heading to their humidor cellar.
Located a few kilometres from Amboise, Château de Pray was originally a fortress before becoming a grand renaissance home. Today, the four-star hotel has 19 guest rooms and suites, an outdoor swimming pool and a charming terrace. It is just a couple of hours from Paris by TGV. The property is situated in the heart of a lush park, flanked by historic towers. Each room is different, with many featuring exposed beams, traditional canopy beds with bold floral linens and antique furniture – some have French windows and four-poster beds. L’Orangerie houses a fine dining restaurant with one Michelin star, offering locally sourced contemporary French cuisine. The cosy restaurant has a peaceful setting overlooking the courtyard.
With undisturbed views of Amboise’s Château Royal and the Loire River, this smart shutter-fronted hotel is built on the foundations of the old Minimes medieval monastery. The hotel has 13 comfortable guest rooms and two suites split across the main building and the annex. Rooms are elegant, with floor-to-ceiling windows flooding the interiors with light and showing off the warm ivory-and-gold colour scheme. The Prestige Manoir suite can be found on the first floor, and its chic chaise-longue provides the perfect place to recline and enjoy the views of the Château Royal. There are various places to enjoy a beverage after a long day of sightseeing: the cosy lounge, the graceful library or the terrace.
This grand castle, built by the perfumer F Coty, is now a five-star hotel with great leisure facilities. With a spa, Turkish bath and outdoor pool, this historic hotel is perfect for those seeking relaxation, but there are also tennis courts and a fitness centre for those feeling more energetic. There are 56 accommodations, with five different choices – from guest rooms and suites to entire apartments. All are tastefully decorated in traditional French style and have views over the Indre valley, the French garden, the château or the park. The elegant fine dining restaurant, L’Origan, is set in a rotunda dining room with 18th-century woodwork and elegant gold-leaf highlights throughout. Expect indulgent dishes such as hare royale stuffed with foie gras and truffles.
Surrounded by forests, a creek and a picturesque rose garden, Château Laroche-Ploquin is an ideal country retreat for those seeking some time in the great outdoors. With fishing on the lake, trekking and hunting in the forests, and countless bridleways awaiting, the renaissance chateau certainly has lots to entertain you – they even have on-site stables if you’re bringing a horse with you. The hotel has 23 rooms and suites, all decorated in the style of Louis XV or Louis XVI – think elaborate drapes, exposed 18th-century beams and elegant floor-to-ceiling windows looking out across the park. Breakfast is a delight taken in the restaurant overlooking the much-photographed rose labyrinth of the hotel.
Despite being close to busy Amboise, Relais du Silence Château de Perreux feels surprisingly secluded and is a great base for couples or families to explore the Loire towns and chateaux. With rooms at various price points, this hotel is a great all-rounder – it also has super service, characterful decor and a welcoming atmosphere. Each room has its own style; for a romantic stay book room eight; located within the turret it feels like a cosy log cabin. For a blowout, book spacious room number nine – it’s the biggest room in the hotel and features a modern four-poster bed, exposed beams and views across the park. The heated 18m (60ft) pool is ideal for lording it up on lazy afternoons, and hammocks and loungers are dotted around the grounds for you to use too. You can also hire the castle in its entirety. The hotel has a restaurant that’s only open to guests – it has some great value local wines to accompany your meal.
This is a fantastic choice for those who like to be in the middle of the action. Despite being located in the busy medieval city of Tours, it is surrounded by a large park – formerly a vineyard, it offers a tranquil base from which to explore the city. It has 65 guest rooms and suites with simple, modern decor as well as a restaurant, swimming pool and a spa complete with heat-experience rooms. The spacious terrace at the restaurant offers views of the park and the 17th-century castle.
Get a taste of aristocratic castle life in this luxury chateau guesthouse which dates to the 15th century. Once the former abode of Marquis de Lafayette, today this stylish hotel has 10 guest rooms and three suites – all of which are located within the castle. The rooms are spacious and named after historic political figures – some of which stayed at the castle. The Gilbert Motier de Lafayette room is one of the most popular, and decked in Louis XVI period furniture, it has two enormous windows offering unspoiled park views. There is a restaurant that is only for hotel guests and serves indulgent, seasonal fare, such as quail stuffed with foie gras. If you want to arrange a private dinner, check out the music room.
Located in the heart of Amboise, just steps away from the old city’s pedestrian shopping streets, this historic hotel was originally a 17th-century manor house. It has some impressive neighbours for those who fancy a bit of sightseeing with their morning coffee; Francois I’s chateau and the Clos Lucé – Leonardo da Vinci’s chosen residence. Situated right next to the famous chateau, its preserved fire places, cosy wood-paneling and regal gilt mirrors provide a wonderful sense of place. The 20 guest rooms and suites each have their own style, with plain walls paving the way for elaborately patterned carpets, grand drapes, four-poster beds and exposed beams. Outside, a swimming pool is fringed by fragrant rose bushes and rustling cedars. The hotel is surprisingly affordable and makes for a wonderfully atmospheric base from which to explore the local castles and the historic medieval centre of Amboise.
Callum Davies contributed additional reporting to this article.